Sunday, September 29, 2013

"In flagrante collecto (caught in the act of collecting)"

I may have read about the sculptor Marilynn Gelfman Karp's illustrated catalog in the New Yorker a year ago. In any case, it moved up the Interlibrary Loan List and here are some highlights:

Marilynn Gelfman Karp, Framed Soap Shards, 1995-2004 and Group of Soap Shards, 1995-1999

Marilynn Gelfman Karp, Framed Soap Shards, 1997-1999

Marilynn Gelfman Karp, Framed Soap Shards, 1995-1998

"Robert G. is an artist, a painter fascinated by the way objects age and wear down. He collects nubbins of soap that are too small to be comfortably functional. Unlike the yellow laundry soap of yesteryear, these soap shards are softly curved and as polished as beach pebbles. Many of these soap bars started off with curved edges but all were molded from creamy skin-anointing unguents that yield to the human hand. Robert arranges his soap ostraca in much the same way that Victorians displayed geological specimens or fossils or seashell collections. They are framed in poetic passages that are evocative of the curiosity cabinets of an earlier time. Before I knew Robert, each sliver of my last soap bar was merged with the next as a smaller Siamese twin. Now there is symmetry to my lathering, and something that would have inevitably disappeared with use has instead become a lasting and artful artifact of our time."

Marilynn Gelfman Karp, Swimmer toothpick and snuff scoop (open and closed), 1925

 Marilyn Gelfman Karp, Group of Shopping Lists, 1988-2004

"The most primitive purpose of a list is memory prompting... Lists satisfy the collecting urge and are free. Lists themselves are material, though barely so."

Marilyn Gelfman Karp, Group of Shopping Lists, 1987-2004

"Shopping lists run the gamut of naïve to sophisticated, mundane to poetic, stodgy to flamboyant, offhanded to earnest, vague to obsessively specific. Written for oneself, there is no self-conscious reserve."

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Past & Present: Art Historian

Past Reference Point (Postcard Collective Summer 2011 submission):

Current Reincarnation (completed August 2013):

Clockwise from top left: Monterey, CA, Marfa, TX, Ucross, WY and Bellevue, WA

I learned about the retired art historian who couldn’t bear to look at the artwork on her hotel room walls a couple years ago. She sought any article of cloth to drape over the printed reproductions before she carried on with her activities. This became known when she attended a conference and shared a room with a colleague who witnessed this behavior. She was no longer living when the Art Department shared this story but one additional phrase was used to describe her: “control freak.”

Three months later I began to replicate and document her actions. I started in Monterey, California and continued throughout Northern Italy (here, here, here and here). Intermittently over the next two years, I hung towels, bedding, clothing, and even a yoga mat over paintings of cupid, horses, flowers, golf courses, abstract geometric forms and bales of hay. I only hesitated at covering one print advertising a Josef Albers exhibition in Marfa, Texas. I felt certain this image was “art historian approved.”

Friday, September 27, 2013

Christine Shank's "Our First Year Together"

From Christine's website: 

"In this series, Our First Year Together, I am exploring ideas of time, place and the entanglement of a narrative, which occurs when images are placed next to one another. I am interested in the way photographs act as an indicator, a map, a marker and at many points a source of confusion. Images of landscapes, still lives, potentially overlooked moments in the domestic, alongside images made in museums and educational institutions, all come together to draw the viewer into the implied relations between these objects, places, and moments, to craft an expansive story. The title of the series, Our First Year Together, indicates a structure of time and alludes to an undefined relationship, while the images work to confuse this expectation and make openings for an individual understanding. Who "our" is is left undefined and therefore continually reconsidered through the relationship that can be draw between the adjacent image. These photographs were created from 2008 to now."

All photographs are by Christine Shank.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Press from "Echo of the Object" in Knoxville

Mathew Blanshei wrote a review of Echo of the Object at

The article focuses on deconstructing Lara Kuykendall's essay and sadly, fails to mention Jennifer Halvorson's artwork. This month we are working on a catalog of the exhibition featuring an interview by Natalie Philllips. Hopefully this will redeem some of the oversights above. In the meantime, "press is press" and we are thankful for outside recognition as this exhibition comes to a close.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Gayle Wimmer R.I.P.

I signed up for Gayle Wimmer’s fibers course as my very first elective in graduate school. The description emphasized installation and the use of photographic processes though I knew absolutely nothing about fibers. I would take this class four more semesters, still knowing very little about the medium by the end of my graduate degree.

Gayle turned into one my most influential mentors at the University of Arizona. I enrolled in her class every term and she would have served on my thesis defense if she was not in Poland on sabbatical. On a technical level, she taught me a process I utilized in my MFA show (ethyl acetate transfers onto cloth, Kleenex, and paper bags). Artistically, she helped place my interest in family as subject matter into a broader context. It was also through her thoughtfulness, kind demeanor and interactions with students that I learned how to become a better professor.

She had great impact on me as a woman with an international art reputation, one who lived alone with her beloved cat dedicating her life to her work, and one who traveled extensively to fuel her practice. I learned about grant writing through Gayle as she planted the idea that applying for Guggenheim and Fulbright fellowships were essential. It was through her practice that I learned what I could become through hard work and dedication.

I became familiar with Petah Coyne’s installations with horsehair from Gayle. Whenever I see a photograph of an Eastern European haystack, I think of her. I can clearly see her staring at me over the rims of her glasses after asking a poignant question and I could recognize her distinctive blocky handwriting fourteen years after last seeing it.

Recently, I decided to make an artwork dedicated to our last phone conversation in January 2007. I searched for her online, hoping that I would not find an obituary, but that was indeed what I discovered. Last month while I was on the residency in Wyoming mapping out a plan for this artwork, she died at the age of 69 in Pennsylvania the very same week. This information brings great sadness and makes it imperative that I create this piece.

All the obituaries mention the impact she had on her students. I am not alone when I say that a great artist and professor passed away last month. Gayle Wimmer will be missed.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Response to "There are Precedents"

Sixteen months ago, I received this in the mail from James Luckett. I pinned it to the studio wall, vowing to answer it, knowing full well I could never do it with as much justice as the original.

Front of There are Precedents by James Luckett

Back of There are Precedents by James Luckett

My response is nowhere near as compelling as James's but it is done. I wrote the text at Ucross and printed it this week. I am looking forward to seeing what Jennifer Hall does with it next.

In the meantime, I have since received the artwork, postcards, book, and typewriter ribbon above from James. Too many things to like. Too many things to do.

On another note, we are participating in a panel discussion at the next Society for Photographic Education conference in Baltimore in March on the Postcard Collective. We will be spreading the love of Mail Art. Hope to see you there.

Monday, September 23, 2013

"Twenty-six Gasoline Stations" Turns 50

 Ed Ruscha, Twenty-six Gasoline Stations, Drawing of the artist's book, 1964

Rejection letter from the Library of Congress.

Ed Ruscha, Twenty-six Gasoline Stations, 1963

Ed Ruscha, Twenty-six Gasoline Stations, 1963 

Ed Ruscha, Twenty-six Gasoline Stations, 1963

Check out Carolina Miranda's interview "In Ed Ruscha's Work, A City Sits for Its Portrait" on NPR. Hear Ed Ruscha rev the engine of his 1933 Ford pick-up and how he has influenced architects as well as artists. From the website:

"The son of an insurance auditor, Ruscha was raised in Oklahoma City, but moved to L.A. in 1956. The gas stations he photographed all sat on Route 66, the highway he rode on his regular visits home. 'I just had a personal connection to that span of mileage between Oklahoma and California,' Ruscha explains. "It just, it kind of spoke to me.' So did the stark black-and-white cinematography of John Ford's 1940 film adaptation of The Grapes of Wrath, which told the story of Oklahoma migrants fleeing the Dust Bowl in the 1930s. They traveled Route 66, too."

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Swimming Pool as Anti-Paradise Part II

Alas, summer is gone. Time for an update of a post from two years ago featuring swimming pools that do not evoke feelings of escapism and desire.

Ali Richards 

Emily Shur, From Wild, Wild Life

Guy Tillim, Grand Hotel, Beira, Mozambique, 2008

Len Jenshel, Whitcolm Pass, Route 2, Massachusetts, c. 1970s

Loretta Ayeroff, From California Ruins and Historical Sites, Perris Valley, 1974

Larry Sultan, From Pictures from Home, 1991

Zack Hyman, Phalodi, Jodhpur, India, 2011

Martin Parr, From The Last Resort, c. 1983-85

Saturday, September 21, 2013

"Perceptive Stills" in Fort Wayne

Come check out Amelia's photos in Fort Wayne if you are in the area! I love her new image from the series An Honest Assessment so much that I am posting it twice.

Amelia Morris, You Know How He Feels About Power Couples, 2013

From her website:

"An Honest Assessment is a series of public declarations and private confessions. Staged self-portraits address feelings of anxiety and inadequacy. Colorful banners disarm by conveying negative thoughts in a cheerful display. Home-made whimsy through temporary tattoos, an illogical breeze, and coordinated outfits create humorous artificial scenarios. This is a light-hearted portrayal of serious concerns."

Friday, September 20, 2013

Reacquaintance with a Very Special Box

It held fishing tackle until it was cleaned in 1993 when the interior was spray painted red. Ever since then, it contained my art supplies. About twice a year, I rifle through searching for drawing pencils. I wish I had time to use the contents more. Today, I rummaged to the bottom and dug out my father's ART 111 Drawing slides from Boise State University. Several of these I used to learn anatomy. Once a very long time ago.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Bad Day Printing

My attempt at printing four images from the series Clear Water Samples was foiled. New computers + new printers + updated to CS6 = massive headache in color correction.

At least a small portion of the print featuring the Bubbles fits into my sketchbook.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Tacita Dean, Robert Smithson & Postcards

Tacita Dean, Rozel Point, Great Salt Lake, Utah, 1997/1999

Sheila tweeted this link to a Tate interview of Tacita Dean discussing JG Ballard, Robert Smithson and Spiral Jetty last week. Dean discusses how different times are from 1997 when she first searched for Smithson's earthwork in the Great Salt Lake. In addition, she elaborates on her interest in the connection between the author and the artist and their relationship with Spiral Jetty. Also of note is her discussion of overpainted postcards.


Tacita Dean, c/o Jolyan, 2012-2013
100 found postcards of pre-war Kassel, hand-painted with gouache

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Wunderkammer (again and again)

After reading Umberto Eco's Infinity of Lists, thoughts of the wunderkammer reappeared (as they often do) in addition to the presentation of collections based on old curiosity cabinets. Here are some images that I have pondered over the past couple weeks featured in Eco's book.

Johann Georg Hainz, Collector's Cabinet, 1666, Hamburg, Hamburger Kunsthalle

From Eco (page 203): "Most of what remains of the Wunderkammern are pictorial representations or etchings in their catalogs. Sometimes they were made up of hundreds of tiny shelves holding stones, shells, the skeletons of curious animals and sometimes masterpieces of the taxidermist's art capable of producing non existing animals. Other times they are cupboards, like miniature museums, full of compartments containing items that, removed from their original context, seem to tell senseless or incongruous stories."

Reliquary Urn with pebbles from the Holy Land, 17th century, Paris, Musée des Civilisations de l'Europe et de la Méditerranée

 A place that I must visit someday: the Museo del Tempo Ozzano Taro.

The three images above come from this source.

Part of me wants to spend years toiling away on a site-specific wunderkammer that no one is aware of much like Marcel Duchamp's Etant Donné.